Remember the digital divide, the alarm spread by the White House, governors, and advocacy groups in the mid-1990s? The advent of the Internet created fabulous wealth, mingled tech savvy with bobo lifestyles, and sparked visions of anti-authoritarian commerce in an age of instant data and personal empowerment. But it never takes long for anything to acquire a race/class consequence. The downside, President Clinton and others warned: not everyone was connecting. Minority and underprivileged households weren't going online at the rate of white and middleclass households, and, because of the acceleration of skills and knowledge enabled by the Web, black and brown kids in particular were falling further and further behind. What seemed so promising, in fact, aggravated income disparities and social injustice.

The solution was clear: more computers in classrooms, more wiring in schools. Amidst prophecies of how computers would reshape human...


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